First posted in March, 2014.
This is not a translation, but rather a version, my “take” on a famous Tu Fu poem. I claim no abilities in translation, neither speak nor read Chinese, and instead depend upon the skills of those who have ventured into these difficult reaches. This is where the poem carries me, a middle-aged Texas hill county dweller, in the Year of the Horse, 2014.
Night Journey (after Tu Fu)
Wind bends the grass along the road.
A lonely truck passes by.
Stars reach down to touch these hills
and the moon drifts behind.
No one will ever know my poems.
I am too old and ill to work.
Circling, floating, who am I
but a vulture looking down.
Here’s a literal translation of the piece (or so I believe), found on chinese-poems.com:
Nocturnal Reflections While Traveling
Gently grass soft wind shore
Tall mast alone night boat
Stars fall flat fields broad
Moon rises great river flows
Name not literary works mark
Official should old sick stop
Flutter flutter what place seem
Heaven earth one sand gull
My goal was to retain the mood, as I understand it, of the original, and to place it into my personal context. An interesting exercise.